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Recreation Center is a generation changer

By Dawn Burleigh

City of Orange Recreation Center is moving forward and progress on the project will be soon evident.

Orange Council, in December 2018, approved the projects they would like to pursue after discussing several for years.

Each project was presented as well as a proposed cost and operating expenses, if required for the project.

The final projects selected were Street Improvement, a Recreational Center, a Boat Ramp Pavilion, a new Firetruck and Streetscape. While other projects have moved ahead and some near completion, it is now time for the Rec Center to move forward.

The cost to repurpose the building is $3,000,000 with a proposed operating expense of $311,200 a year.

The budget also included adding an area for showers for first responders during an emergency setting, a secured pass to enter to create a safe haven for children as well as expanding the parking lot, according to a previously published Orange Leader article.

The facility would also add a place to hold birthday parties and would create jobs.

“This will be a generation changer,” Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said. “As teens are heading to the rec, they will encourage others to join them in 3 on 3 tourneys. Mothers, and families will not be affected as trouble will be avoided. Another life will not be lost to random acts because the acts did not happen.”

The center was a vision Spears had and the first project he made a decision on as mayor.

“The Lord showed me to turn it into a rec center,” Spears said. “The council agreed it needed to be torn down after we walked through it. Then I asked them to walk thru a state-of-the-art rec center.”

The building was built in 1979 as a project to help the community and the youth. Now, in 2020, it is again a project to serve the community and youth.

“It will be repurposed an is centrally located,” Spears said. “We are working with the school district to have a walking track.”

Orange City Council, last week, awarded Architectural Services for the proposed Recreation Center to Architects Inc. of Bridge City.

The company also worked on the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School gymnasium and the West Orange – Stark High School basketball court remodel and the installation of the new baseball, softball and football turf fields.

“Growing up, I always heard ‘We need a Rec Center.’ Now it is happening,” Spears said.

Spears added the center will also equalize the playing fields as it will allow young female athletes practice and improve their volleyball, and softball skills as well.